Monday, August 3, 2015

FCA - Friggin' Crappy Automobiles!

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is in the midst of perhaps the greatest engineering and public relations disasters in automobile history.  The company is responsible for possibly up to nearly 580,000 vehicles that were recalled in February and November 2013 and were either improperly fixed or not fixed at all (though some may have been remedied successfully) and has been fined $105 million in civil penalties for what the Detroit Free Press refers to as FCA's "lax record of repairs and communication" regarding the recalled vehicles.
It gets worse for FCA.  The firm now has to consent to participating in a buy-back program where it purchases back the crappy vehicles it sold to these hapless customers.  To say that this is going to affect the company's bottom line could well be an understatement.  And what vehicles are they, assuming they have not been properly repaired?  Drum roll, please!
278,229 vehicles recalled on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 because of a defect that may cause the axle to lock including the:
  • 2009 model year Chrysler Aspen
  • 2009 model year Dodge Durango
  • 2009-2012 model years Dodge Ram 1500
  • 2009-2011 model years Dodge Dakota
36,710 vehicles recalled on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 (Wednesday the 6th again?  Coincidence or supernatural phenomenon?  You be the judge!) because of a defect that may cause the driver to lose steering power and crash:
  • 2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 4500
  • 2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 5500
265,057 more vehicles recalled on Wednesday, November 6, 2013, to repair and replace steering linkages that may cause the driver to lose steering power and crash:
  • 2008 model year Dodge Ram 1500
  • 2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 2500
  • 2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 3500
Oh, did you happen to notice that all of the affected vehicles are light trucks?  Not a Fiat 500 or a Dodge Dart among them.  And most of the light trucks on this list are pickups.  Whatever Fiat Chrysler is doing right with passenger cars is obviously not translating to the popular truck lines.  (Guts. Glory.  Power steering defects.)  I'm not surprised.  Let's face it, except for the Range Rover and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class safari wagon, light trucks aren't exactly the most sophisticated vehicles in the world, and pickups in particular are crude haulers with a couple of nice amenities added to make riding in one barely palatable.  The lousy engineering of light-truck models that were technological dinosaurs to begin with should make people think twice about those big honkin' SUVs and possibly reconsider station wagons.             
They won't, of course.  And I'm going to have to deal with unsightly, lumbering SUVs and pickups on the highway for a long time.  Not too many of them will be ones listed above, though.  
And in case you're a Jeep owner who's happy that no Jeep models are on this list, listen up: A couple of computer geeks in Missouri demonstrated how easy it is to hack the computer of a Jeep Cherokee and commandeer the vehicle while you're driving it!  
FCA says it's looking into that issue.  (No kidding, Kojak!) 

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